Arcata Chamber of Commerce
HUMBOLDT – This is the latest in a series on the three nominees in each of six categories of Arcata’s Annual Business Leadership Awards, featuring interviews with Small Business of the Year nominees Frankie’s NY Bagels, Tosha Yoga and WoodLab. Frankie’s NY Bagels is two years old, Tosha Yoga nearly four, and WoodLab eight.
Members of the Arcata Chamber of Commerce who made the nominations will vote for winners this month. Winners will be announced at the awards event on Feb. 23 at the Arcata Community Center. Tickets can be bought at the Arcata Chamber or on Brown Paper Tickets online.
How is the reality of having a small business different from the idea?
Frankie’s NY Bagels (Frankie Baker): Definitely much harder than what I expected and more complex and challenging for sure. If you research too much it’ll seem impossible – the permits, the regulations, the employees, training. I had to jump in or I wouldn’t have done it.
Tosha Yoga (Suzanne Dunning): Yoga is so much about being present and the practice of presence, but the reality of running a studio involves tremendous planning for the future and lots of logistics.
WoodLab (Jeremy Harris): The idea means being able to work for yourself and having a sense of freedom in that, but the reality can be that you’re even less free because you’re so entangled with running the business. But the satisfaction of seeing something succeed makes it all worth it.
How do you measure success?
Frankie’s NY Bagels: There are different ways like monetarily; but mostly customer feedback asking me to expand. The feedback from the community and new customers every week. They get excited about new bagel flavors and I make them happen for them. That’s the most fun about this.
Tosha Yoga: I think success to me depends on whether creativity is being poured into everything I do – so if there is something I am doing and creativity doesn’t feel like it’s pouring through me when I’m doing it, I realize I am trying to do too much.
WoodLab: One project at a time. Keeping the creativity going and not feeling stuck creatively is, for me, the measure of success. This type of business keeps me on my toes in that way – sometimes more than I want – but that’s what I’ve asked for.
What is the most common question you get?
Frankie’s NY Bagels: “When are you moving to a bigger location?” “When will you be in retail?” But also, “What is New York bagel? What is the actual difference?” Answer to that last one is the outer crust is crispy and the inside is chewy and soft and they’re a little bit bigger because they’re boiled and baked. And they’re fresh every day. That’s the gist.
Tosha Yoga: “I want to do yoga, but I have – fill in the blank injury/personal limitation – can I still come in spite of my major impediment?” Yes! Yoga is a process of embracing ourselves and our limitations; modifying the practice to meet us where we’re at rather than we having to adjust ourselves to meet the practice.
WoodLab: Usually the conversation starts with “Can you do blank?” and usually we try to make our answer, “Yes we can” because we do such a variety of things. People see our website and social media and with such a variety of things that we can do, we get a wide variety of customers and requests. A lot of time people will ask us about very unique projects that they don’t know how to make a reality and that’s where we come in.
How have you grown as a person because of your business?
Frankie’s NY Bagels: Definitely becoming more confident. I try to not let anything stress me out anymore because I have to handle things and get them done. I’ve grown a lot with that. I’m the only one who can fix things so there’s no reason to stress - just do it.
Tosha Yoga: There has been a general sense of expansion – expansion of my capacity to love people, my idea of the situations in which I thought I would thrive or be comfortable or types of people I like has expanded. The longer I’ve been in this world it has continued to break down my sense of limitation.
WoodLab: It forced me to do a lot of things I wasn’t used to: dealing with lots of different clients, dealing with the public, communicating project ideas in various ways (over the phone and emailing), and that’s just the social aspect of it! Becoming a boss, having a employees, and assuming all the responsibilities that come with that. On top of all that, just learning more hands on skills as I keep going. I’m not just the owner, I also operate all the machines and do lots of designing. My design skills have greatly improved and I’ve been able to develop my own style and see that grow into all kinds of things which is fun.
Is there a feeling you’ve gained by being a member of the business community?
Frankie’s NY Bagels: I am proud to be a part of the entrepreneur business community. There are so many people here that I can now relate to and reach out to about about payroll and all kinds of business stuff. This community is great – no one is pretentious; we’re all in the struggle together.
Tosha Yoga: I feel honored, especially growing up in Arcata, getting to steer the direction of our community. Arcata is a model for the world for how we can live in a simpler way. We are more about presence and community and being in a healthy state with our bodies, our breath, and the seasons and I think the rest of the world is coming to that. Does success relate to how much stuff you have or how much freedom you have? If you shift your mentality to not about getting it right, but about feeling free, then your practice will steer you toward freedom.
WoodLab: It gives you a new perspective, especially in a small town. When you go into other stores here, you share the connection with being a small business owner. We all know the same challenges and successes. We could have our business in the Bay Area and probably get more work, but it wouldn’t feel the same. There’s a sense of pride and community in this area. Most of the people I talk to live up here by choice. It’s a beautiful area with good people. It’s a tight community and we have each other’s back.